Sandusky ordered to rehire fired police officer

Arbitrator rules he was wrongfully terminated and is due back pay for time off
Andy Ouriel
Apr 19, 2013

Sandusky officials fired police Officer Todd Smith in April 2012 for allegedly exchanging nude photos with a supervisor’s wife via text messaging.

An arbitrator ruled Smith should be returned to the force and receive back pay for his out-of-work period.

Arbitrator Robert Stein’s report said the exchange of nude photos doesn’t violate city policy, nor did it stop Smith from fulfilling his police duties.

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Agree. His personal life is none of the department's business nor the business of the Sandusky community. Chief Lang was in error releasing the details of this internal department investigation to the public. This incident should have been handled differently.

Best of luck Officer Smith!

Señor Clown

Personal matters become professional matters when you bring them to work. Don't you see any way in which (allegedly) having an affair with a supervisor's spouse could cause problems in the workplace?


It could have, but unless they were sleeping together on the super's desk...all of this occurred outside of work.


I agree his personal life is none of the communities or the department's business UNLESS all of this BS was going on while he was on duty. Then it is their business and he should have been disciplined for conducting personal business during work hours. Maybe not fired, but some sort of reprimand. I know in this day and age people just can't seem to survive without their cell phones, but the city should have a policy against personal cell phone usage during work hours.


Agree Mutley. Was all to appease the News Paper because their "opinion" is Very Obvious! They should just go back to reporting the news and keeping their opinions (no matter how subtle) out!!

Matt Westerhold

Thanks for the comment been-there-done-that. Generally, community newspapers have published opinion pages daily for about 150 years and continue to do that, and more recently at digital news web sites. The Register's no different.

Here's an excerpt from a Feb. 15 'Between the Lines' blog post on that topic: 

Maybe police Sgt. Steve Ritterbach deserves a second chance on the force and the same might be true for SPD officer Todd Smith. Both were fired last year after a sexting, texting and threats incident involving them and Ritterbach's new wife. 

Maybe they don't deserve their jobs back. Who knows? 

But taxpayers know — and commissioners would be well served to learn — that spending $100,000 on failed disciplinary actions is not a wise use of the public's money, and there's likely to be additional expense when city attorneys mail their invoices to taxpayers.

John Harville

Matt... experience says that unless you're reporting what these anonymous poster want to read/here, the SR is the 'lame stream' media. It seems history in the last year has borne out the morass of governing that is Sandusky.


be vary, vary careful been there. the last time i spoke against the SR i was banned for a period.

Dont Worry Be Happy

Many of us agree with you been-there-done-that. When people start discussing the SR that's the same thing we all say they need to go back to REAL reporting or come out with their own gossip paper.


So what we are saying is that it is really the Union that keeps us from cleaning up the SPD (if "cleaning up" is actually a fair way of saying it).

Dont Worry Be Happy

Its sad that the union can help dirty people keep their jobs. I have never been a fan of the union seen way to many people do drugs or drink or just be horrible workers, get fired and get their jobs back.

John Harville

and ALL those you mention were UNION employees. Right? Bull!

Dont Worry Be Happy


Mr. Harville they were.


The public employee unions are the reason. Is it me or has every arbitrator reinstated the fired employees with back pay?

John Harville

Was the Huron superintendent Union?

John Harville

YoMamma... yeah, it's you.

An arbitrator is to bring parties to an agreement - not judge guilt or innocence.

BOTH PARTIES must agree to enter into arbitration and to abide by the opinion of the arbitrator.

If the City thought it could do better, it would have skipped arbitration - except that most employment contracts (union or non) require arbitration.

Now The Rest of...

An arbitrator makes decisions either binding or non binding depending on the union contract. A Mediator attempts to bring all parties into an agreement. Big difference in authority..

John Harville

YoMamma... yeah, it's you.

An arbitrator is to bring parties to an agreement - not judge guilt or innocence.

BOTH PARTIES must agree to enter into arbitration and to abide by the opinion of the arbitrator.

If the City thought it could do better, it would have skipped arbitration - except that most employment contracts (union or non) require arbitration.


How can it be "required" but yet have a choice to enter arbitration? You contradict your own post in the same post...

entitled to my ...

He never should have been fired in the first place. And, keep in mind, any money he earned during his time "off" is deducted from the back pay he is going to receive. Also, I agree with DG- this should have been handled "in house". Except for Stookey, has the city EVER won an arbitration case when they have fired an employee? I think the answer is NO! Think about it, must mean these employees SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN FIRED!
Good Luck, Todd!


Unfortunately it seems the city likes to go nuclear in their discipline, then when a independent party looks at it they see the obvious overkill and rule against the city. The city needs to exercise a lot more common sense in the disciplinary actions. A couple day suspension would have much more realistic. And cost effective.


So….does the City need to actually write this into the policy? “Pursuant to common sense and ethical standards, no City employee shall send, trade, or view nude photos of or with other people’s spouses.” What kind of “company” is this if they have to literally spell this out to people?

Hasn’t anyone heard of a “psychological contract”?

You learn about that in college classes. We have a psychological contract for these things because there isn’t any way to write a policy for everything. There is an expectation that people are going to behave in a socially acceptable manner (especially law enforcement). Since this doesn’t always happen, there are measures in place for consequences.

Right or wrong, our society holds law enforcement at a higher standard.
Trust is a real issue in the law enforcement community. This officer certainly didn’t display any intellect in his actions. Why should anyone who is stopped by him for accidentally running a red light or going seven miles an hour over the speed limit actually care what he says? I don't have any respect this person.

Now, this arbitrator is telling the citizens (taxpayers)of Sandusky (and the world) that this behavior is acceptable….there aren’t any consequences in the professional environment when immoral acts occur.

I can’t believe that an arbitrator is so ignorant to contend that the City should have this type of thing written in the policy. If people support this guy…then, you may want to check your own morals. If he violated your life like that….you would view this with different lenses.

Corporate America deals with unethical issues too…just like union jobs. However, when employees are terminated in non-union jobs - - there aren’t any arbitrators to tell the company that they need to rehire a guy who is sending nude photos to his supervisor’s wife.

This is our tax dollars at work….we get to give him back pay for being stupid, unethical, and immoral. No intelligent person can say that this would not affect his workplace environment…it was his supervisor’s wife.

We are emotional creatures – any organizational behavior psychologist would tell you that this had an affect on the work environment to some degree. Nobody would care if he was doing this with his own wife/girlfriend off the clock.

This system is laughable and would provide a great deal of fodder for late night talk show hosts. When you work for the public...IT IS our business!

entitled to my ...

Pragmatic- I think the problem is this: Both Officers involved should have been disciplined, just NOT fired! I am sure, like most places that have a union, there are "progressive" disciplinary steps that need to be followed, unless, of course, the violation is egregious. Which, in this case, and the last few cases the City has lost, were not.
The City spends all this money, hires outside council, and NEVER wins. Before firing a City employee, they need to be sure they can win in arbitration. And the City needs to remember this: the arbitrator is a neutral party. They look at the facts and make their decision accordingly. It may not be the decision that is most popular, but usually it is the RIGHT decision!


You got it dead on.

John Harville

Are the supervisor and his wife still married?




Prag, you speak of what the arbitrator is telling the citizens of Sandusky. Did you read the decision? If so please provide your source, since I haven't seen it posted on line. Or are you just guessing what is in his report?

Also who's life was violated?


Correct me if I'm wrong..but wasnt there a fist fight between the two officers over this? one was in inform?


No there was no physical fighting involved!


If we don't figure in morals and ethics he did nothing wrong. I kinda like my policemen to have those traits.

Do you really wonder why people don't respect the police or trust them.